Tracking Trends in CMMS/EAM

Although CMMS has been around for more than two decades, the marketplace is relatively stable, despite high industry vendor turnover in its early days. Only a few new faces appear each year; only a few disappear. EAM is no longer a topic restricted to the plant floor or maintenance organization. It is available to all of the enterprise, regardless of geographic boundaries.

By Jack Smith, Senior Editor, Plant Engineering Magazine May 6, 2003
Current trends
CMMS? EAM? What’s the difference?
CMMS/EAM viability
Selecting a CMMS/EAM provider
What’s ahead?

Although CMMS has been around for more than two decades, the marketplace is relatively stable, despite high industry vendor turnover in its early days. Only a few new faces appear each year; only a few disappear. EAM is no longer a topic restricted to the plant floor or maintenance organization. It is available to all of the enterprise, regardless of geographic boundaries.

This special report presents the perspectives and predictions of several CMMS/EAM vendors regarding the trends, similarities and differences, selection criteria, and the future of the CMMS/EAM industry.

Current trends

“You know you are in a reactive maintenance mode if you are buying a new CMMS program every few years,” says Ricky Smith, Executive Director Maintenance Solutions, Life

Cycle Engineering, North Charleston, SC. “The number one problem with CMMS programs that existed seven years ago is the same as today, in that users do not understand how to fully utilize their CMMS or have the expertise to implement it properly,” Smith adds.

Smith defines implementation as “having 100% of your assets loading into your CMMS; 100% of all PMs written properly and installed in the CMMS; 100% of all name plate data, and all other elements to make the system provide accurate data installed in your system.”


Marty Osborn, Vice President Hosted Solutions, Datastream Systems, Inc., Greenville, SC, sees the centralized database as the biggest factor driving multisite implementations of CMMS/EAM. Of course, this means having a browser-based solution.

“Very few companies have nothing; nearly everyone has something,” Osborn says referring to the market saturation of legacy CMMS. “The question now is how to get everyone on the same database.”

Osborn feels that web-based CMMS/EAM is the up-and-coming technology. He says that once you have tried a browser-based system, “you won’t want to go backwards.”

Paul Tubinis, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, HSB Reliability Systems, Alexandria, VA, agrees: “CMMS/EAM continues to incorporate advances in internet and application service provider (ASP) technology. There is an increased interest in browser-based systems.”

Kim Custeau, Director of Product Marketing, Invensys Avantis, Burlinton, Ontario, Canada, doesn’t agree. “The browser era is over. Providers need to deliver solutions that go beyond an inflexible interface to rich client applications that are deployable wherever required — pervasive computing.”

Despite trends and predictions, ASP or hosted models are still not taking hold in the manufacturing/plant environment, according to Richard MacDonald, president and CEO, Synergen, Inc. Walnut Creek, CA. “There have been some breakthroughs in the facility management arena, but most organizations still don’t want to give up control/ownership of their data and software to a third party.”

However, Osborn admits client/server technology is not dead, “it is still good for ‘one-up’ plants.”


“Once bitten, twice shy,” says Custeau. “I think customers are looking for a long-term solution partner, not just a software package provider. The key reason users choose a CMMS/EAM system is not only the product functionality meeting their requirements but its deployment as well.”

According to Osborn, the maintenance department wants ease of use and functionality; IT also wants ease of use and ease of deployment; front office executives want to share and leverage information; and corporate wants to leverage corporate procurement, historical, and management data. Osborn says that web architecture offers the best of all these.

According to Ian Wray, Manufacturing Industry Solutions Executive Lead, Indus International Inc., Atlanta, GA, trends in CMMS/EAM functionality include:

  • Increased use of, and integration to, condition monitoring systems

  • Expanded use of reliability- centered maintenance (RCM)

  • Focus on reducing inventory carrying costs using various inventory optimization techniques and vendor-managed inventory

  • Increased use of business intelligence techniques

  • Combining the entire enterprise into a single business decision tool.

    • Tubinis says that trends in CMMS/EAM functionality include:

    • Trend toward the paperless process continues with the introduction of handheld devices

    • E-commerce, specifically in materials management area

    • Condition-based monitoring integrating into PLCs

    • ERP systems adding CMMS functionality and/or modules.

      • “Demands and requirements have increased dramatically since departmental CMMS solutions were deployed to address reactive maintenance,” says Terry Saunders, Vice President of Product and Industry Marketing, MRO Software, Bedford, MA. “Current CMMS/EAM solutions manage multiple types of assets from a single solution and provide input from real-time monitoring systems. The CMMS/EAM trends are moving from corrective maintenance to preventive maintenance and/or reliability-centered maintenance; increasing management level capabilities such as key performance indicators (KPIs), reports, and analytics; integration with ERP, financials, and other key business systems; and mobile access.”

        “EAM/CMMS providers are moving toward delivering solutions slated by vertical market focus, such as energy, process vs. discrete manufacturing, etc,” MacDonald adds. “You will probably begin to see more ‘prepackaged’ vertical industry solutions.”

        Custeau says “More and more we see organizations trying to get more out of their existing assets and augmenting their EAM deployments with real-time information and condition monitoring. The result of this is enabling them to do the right maintenance — not over maintaining, not under maintaining.”

        CMMS? EAM? What’s the difference?

        “Asset management has evolved through the years. CMMS systems represent the first phase of computerized asset management,” explains Saunders. “The focus of CMMS systems was solely on the shop floor with emphasis on maintenance management of specific equipment. Stand-alone departmental CMMS solutions met the needs of one person who was concerned about such things as when the last time the lube oil was changed on a line-critical piece of manufacturing equipment. The CMMS market evolved over time to the current phase of EAM. Most companies, as well as the software vendors with products in this space, are focused here today. EAM solutions extend beyond the needs of one department and separate pieces of equipment, and they may be integrated to some degree with financial, ERP, and other key systems.”

        Bill Westrate, Chief Information Officer, ARAMARK ServiceMaster Facility Services (ASFS), Downers Grove, IL, sees a distinction between CMMS and EAM. Although the trend is toward the blurring of these technologies, it appears to be different for different industries. The blurring between CMMS and EAM seems to be more prevalent in manufacturing companies, according to Westrate. “Production is an important part of the business. The manufacturing processes become an integral part of the maintenance process. A CMMS not only manages a company’s assets, but it also manages the work forces that maintain these assets.”

        In manufacturing plants, Westrate sees EAM as being more financial in nature. EAM is not exactly accounting software. But many EAM packages tie into business and front office systems to provide manufacturing metrics to managers, as well as relevant maintenance measures.

        According to Westrate, many EAM providers are trying to put more CMMS functionality into their systems, whereas providers of “pure” CMMS usually don’t go the other way.

        The importance of maintenance to the organization is what Custeau says separates CMMS from EAM. “Those looking for CMMS are looking to track work in a single-site scenario. Those looking for EAM are looking for an enterprise solution that enables connectivity to other applications and enhances the ability to do maintenance more effectively and strategically, resulting in a greater return on assets.”

        CMMS/EAM viability

        Westrate proposes several questions to ask regarding CMMS/EAM vendor viability:

      • How long has the potential provider been in the market within which your company operates? Just entered? Or established?

      • How big is its customer base?

      • Which of the potential vendors are “thought leaders?”

      • Is the potential vendor a partner or just a software provider? Does the vendor interact or just “shrinkwrap?”

      • Will the potential vendor improve my process?

      • Is the potential vendor a remnant of the “dot com” fallout?

      • How much handholding will the vendor provide? If your process is great, maybe software tweaking would be sufficient.

        • Datastream’s Osborn agrees that the size of the provider is important to being able to stay in business, or stay on top. “It’s hard for a small company to make that next technical leap. The ability to adapt to technological change affects vendor viability. The ability to make that leap depends on money.”

          Selecting a CMMS/EAM provider

          The system should be nimble and responsive to real-time decisions and disruptions in the manufacturing process, according to Saunders. “A web browser-based system is easily understood and accessible by all types of users. Usability and flexibility is the key. You need the ability to quickly re-organize maintenance and repair activities to take advantage of manufacturing schedule changes or disruption to line operations.”

          MacDonald says that the decision to replace or buy a CMMS/EAM solution typically can be driven by increased costs, regulatory actions or fines, or safety. “There is continual pressure to do ‘more with less,’ which typically translates to getting more capacity from production without additional capital investment, reducing work force, etc. And while there is measurable short-term ROI to be gained with a CMMS/EAM, many companies struggle to gain the funding for the initial implementation. Like everything else, they want a bargain on their software too.”

          Tubinis suggests that the following criteria be considered when selecting a CMMS/EAM:

        • Compatibility of the provider’s solutions with other internal systems

        • Ability of the provider to operate with user’s current operating system/hardware

        • The expenses that occur after the implementation of the program

        • The cost associated with product upgrades/new products that cause the buyer to seek out other products

        • Graphic user interface (GUI) of the software.

          • What’s ahead?

            According to an updated study by ARC Advisory Group’s Houghton LeRoy, the CMMS/EAM industry is expected to grow at a rate of 5.3% annually over the next five years. Also, the study expects industry revenues to reach $1.6 billion by 2006. These metrics indicate health and stability for such a mature industry (Fig. 1).

            According to LeRoy, “the majority of asset management market growth will come from application service providers (ASPs), web hosted solutions, and electronic maintenance, repair, and operations (eMRO) procurement. The EAM marketplace has matured causing software license sales to decline and customers to demand more services for better performance and continuous improvement.”

            Ricky Smith predicts that EAM solutions will grow 14% or greater, whereas CMMS stand-alone systems will grow very little.

            MacDonald feels that ARC’s EAM growth figure is very conservative. “There is more room for growth, although there will probably continue to be consolidation/attrition within the vendor ranks.” However, he does not agree with ARC’s predication that a large portion of this growth will be attributed to ASP or host solution models.

            “Continued economic uncertainty and regulatory pressures will significantly drive where the market heads,” MacDonald continues. “And while considerable technological advances have surfaced in the last 18 months, I don’t see technology being a driving force. But I do see smarter ways of implementing and deploying CMMS/EAM solutions being a key differentiator for vendors that endure and weather the economic storm.”

            Osborn says that in five years less than 15% of the CMMS/EAM systems will be client/server. In 10 years, one would be hard pressed to find any client/server CMMS/EAM systems. “Web-based EAM will be all there is.”

            “Growth will certainly occur,” asserts Tubinis. “The leaders in the software market are coming out with new ASP models, as users face formidable upgrade costs. Because of these costs, many buyers that have not reached their reliability goals will replace the software rather than incurring the upgrade costs.

            “The growth will not stem from purchase of additional software licenses but from services that focus on making the software work. The mature buyer understands that software is a tool. Also, services around CMMS/EAM drive more service dollars to consulting and CMMS vendor professional services.”

            Tubinis also predicts that there will be increased integration of PM and PdM monitoring, as well as improved capability of ERP and CMMS software to communicate to each other through XML and other tools.